Giants are on the clock: Mock Draft edition
This year’s NFL draft is a bit different. Just 8 teams possess 16 total first round picks, including the Lions, Packers, Texans, Chiefs, Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Saints. The last time the Giants had multiple first round picks was in 2019, when Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, and Deandre Baker were selected with the 6th, 17th, and 30th pick respectively. New York did not reap the benefits fully, as both Jones and Baker haven’t panned out thus far. Dexter Lawrence has been solid, but hitting on ⅓ of those first round picks is unsatisfying. With new management at the helm, in Joe Schoen, the Giants will look to have a more successful go around this year. Here’s what the best case scenario of this year’s NFL Draft could look like for the New York Football Giants.
5th Overall Pick: Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
One of the biggest issues that have deflated the New York Giants is the protection from the offensive line. Jones is the 11th-most sacked quarterback in the league since entering in 2019, and Saquon’s health is always a question mark as well. The Giants need to protect Saquon and Daniel Jones, and they have done a horrible job building a supporting cast that can achieve this purpose. Evan Neal is an absolutely colossal force, and he also has 4” and 22 lbs on Ekwonu. He is more poised, consistent, and technical than any other offensive lineman in this draft. Neal also has experience playing both left tackle and right tackle, as opposed to Ekwonu, and that leads me to believe that Neal will have more of an immediate impact in his rookie season. Any team that gets Ekwonu will also get an elite offensive talent, but in this mock draft, the New York Giants land Evan Neal.
7th Overall Pick: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Giants may have Ekwonu on the board with this pick, which will make it difficult, but they hold off on him and select Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. With a generational nickname like Sauce, Ahmad Gardner seems primed for the bright lights of the NFL. He has played an immeasurable role in turning Cincinnati into the first Group of Five conference team to make the College Football playoffs, and has other insane stats to back up his projections. Gardner has not let up a touchdown in his college career, he let up 131 passing yards in 14 games in 2021, and he has the frame to be a top corner in the NFL. Aside from pass blocking, the defense is a critical area that the Giants need to attend to. With this pick, you can’t go wrong with either Gardner or Hamilton, but with trade rumors about Bradburry circulating (and him possessing the second-highest contract on the team), Gardner can provide the Giants some insurance when this situation fully develops. If Bradburry gets traded before, it may make things interesting for Hamilton or Thibodeaux, but a talent like Ahmad Gardner can be an anchor for a long time on defense.
36th Overall Pick: Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
The Giants continue to improve their defense with this pick, adding an incredibly athletic Edge rusher with Ebiketie. His speed makes him a threat to blow by offensive lineman, and he also has the athleticism and agility to make moves when he can. The Giants, defensively, had an even worse run game than they did passing, but the rankings don’t really tell how porous and slow their defense was. It was extremely frustrating to watch. Guys simply couldn’t tackle on the field, there was no aggression or pressure on the opposing quarterback, and the Giants simply couldn’t stop the run game. Ebiketie’s aggression and quickness he brings will fill a huge need for the Giants and he can be one of those types of players who can make an immediate impact. He is a menace who has a knack for taking the ball away from teams and someone who is also a very solid tackler. The Giants desperately need Ebiketie’s presence, and he is a phenomenal defensive player that Don Martindale will love. My one worry about this pick is whether Dexter Lawrence and the rest of the Giants d-line can be enough of a threat to draw some attention away from him.
67th Overall Pick: John Meetchie III, WR, Alabama
Schoen gets an absolute steal at this pick. Meetchie tore his ACL in the SEC championship, which led to his draft stock falling down. It’s hard to know whether he will be the same player, but the potential value at this pick would be phenomenal. Meetchie is a big-play threat and also arguably the best blocking wide receiver in the draft. He excels as a route runner, he senses where the ball is as he runs downfield, and he can improvise when the play breaks down. The more you look into a player like Meetchie, the more you question why he would even be available this late, but an ACL-tear can certainly cloud judgment. Since Odell’s departure, the Giants have failed trying to replace him with Darius Slayton and most recently (and perhaps embarrassingly), Kadarius Toney, who was the Giants first round pick this past year. With Toney being on the trade block, the New York Giants look to replace him by drafting Meetchie III.
81st Overall Pick: Luke Goedeke, G, Central Michigan
Considering the Giants’ biggest need is the offensive line, I would be shocked if they didn’t take two offensive lineman in the first three rounds. Jones constantly turns the ball over and he barely has enough time in the pocket to get a throw off. Goedeke, like Neal, is mobile but also is consistently reliable in both pass protection and run protection. He is also smart, and knows how to create the biggest lane possible for his running back. Unlike Neal, Goedeke fits better at the guard position, and he will provide additional protection for an offense that desperately needs it.
112th Overall Pick: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
Ruckert is one of the best, if not the best blocking tight end in this class. Out of high school, there was only one tight end in the country ranked higher than him. He had a history of playing wide receiver, before being converted into a tight end at The Ohio State University. Ruckert can be a force in the run game for the Giants, and he can alleviate double coverages on a player like Kenny Golladay. As for the Giants, currently, their tight end room is awfully lackluster. Jordan Akins may be their best tight end, but he is 30, and Ricky Seals-Jones hasn’t produced anywhere near enough as well.
147th Overall Pick: Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor
New York goes with another defensive pick, and spends the 147th overall pick on the middle of the defense. After getting an EDGE and CB earlier in this draft, the Giants drafted Terrel Bernard. Bernard has totaled 317 tackles in four seasons, and reached the 100-tackle mark in 2019 and 2021. According to NFL.com, his leadership, character, and work ethic is unmatched, which can make him a necessary addition for the Giants defense. They are undisciplined and Bernard can bring them one step closer to where they need to be.
173rd Overall Pick: Luke Fortner, C, Kentucky
We know by now that the offensive line was the biggest concern for New York heading into this draft. Luke Fortner, Luke Goedeke, and Evan Neal would be a phenomenal pairing with Andrew Thomas. Another player I could see being taken around here is Ed Ingram, whose draft stock is being negatively affected by off the field issues. Either way, the Giants achieved their goal of bolstering up the offensive line in this year’s draft.
182nd Overall Pick: Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma
With the last pick of their draft, the New York Giants selected a running back in order to give them some sense of a future without Saquon Barkley. It looks like Barkley is on his way out of New York, so the Giants need to draft a player that can move the down-markers for them. Brooks has flown under the radar throughout the draft process and can give the Giants a ferocious runner with more burst than home-run speed. He is also incredibly agile, for someone that is 215 pounds and has rushed for 1,000 yards in three-straight seasons for Sooners nation.